Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers died on September 4, 2014. She was more than just a comedian, and here are some little known facts about her life. Reuters

Joan Rivers has died, her daughter Melissa Rivers confirmed in a statement. The iconic comedian and actress had been rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital on August 28 after she stopped breathing during a routine throat procedure at a clinic in the city. Rivers was put into a medically induced coma after reportedly entering cardiac arrest. On August 29, Melissa, publicly stated that she was "resting comfortably" in the hospital. On August 30, it was reported Rivers had been put on life support.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother," Melissa said in a statement.

"Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated. My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."

Here are 15 unknown facts about Joan Rivers, an iconic comedian who broke gender barriers in the business.

1) Joan Rivers was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York in 1933, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants Beatrice and Meyer C. Molinsky. She was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and her family later moved to Larchmont, in Westchester County, New York.

2) She graduated from Barnard College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and anthropology.

3) Before making it in the entertainment business, Rivers worked at various jobs such as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center, a writer/proofreader at an advertising agency and as a fashion consultant at Bond Clothing Stores. During this period, agent Tony Rivers advised her to change her name, so she chose Joan Rivers as her stage name.

4) She performed in numerous comedy clubs in the Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, before making her first appearances as a guest on The Tonight Show, hosted at the time by Jack Paar. But her life changed when she also made her first appearance on The Tonight Show with new host Johnny Carson, on February 17, 1965. "I had been working for eight years in Greenwich Village and nothing. And [Carson] said—God bless him— 'You're going to be a star.' It changed my life," Joan said to Jimmy Fallon.

5) Johnny and Joan’s chemistry was so palpable that she was named the permanent guest host in 1983.

6) In February 1983, she became the first female comedian to ever perform at Carnegie Hall.

7) In 1986, she began the rival program The Late Show, which sparked a highly publicized rift between Johnny and Joan. However, Joan’s program changed the way women in comedy were seen. Up until that point, comedy had been a male-dominated bubble within the entertainment industry. According to E!, “Joan singlehandedly broke boundaries and gender roles and quickly became famous for her outspoken—and often times controversial—no-holds-barred approach.”

8) Rivers did not appear on the Tonight Show again until February 17, 2014, when she made a brief appearance on new host Jimmy Fallon's first episode.

9) The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers turned out to be surrounded by tragedy. Fox executives wanted to fire Joan’s Husband, Edgar Rosenberg as the show’s producer, and when she confronted them about it, they fired them both.

10) Three months later, on May 15, 1987, Rosenberg committed suicide in Philadelphia. Rivers blamed it on Fox.

11) Eventually Joan got back on her feet again, and by 1989, she tried The Joan Rivers Show, which ran for five years and even won her an Emmy.

12) In 1994, Rivers and daughter Melissa first hosted the E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Golden Globe Awards. They were so popular that in 1995 they hosted the annual E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Academy Awards too. Their way of hosting the red carpet made the red carpet an event as important as the award show. Thanks to Joan, designers started monetizing from celebrities showcasing their creations, and the red carpet became what we know it today.

13) After briefly leaving the network for a stint at TV Guide, Joan made her triumphant return to E!, where she had been hosting Fashion Police alongside Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos since 2010.

14) Rivers was a member of the Reform synagogue Temple Emanu-El in New York, and has stated publicly that she "loves Israel."

15) At one point in her life, Joan struggled with bulimia and even contemplated suicide. Eventually, she recovered with counseling and the support of her family.

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